Good Riddance, 2016: A Guide to NYE

Ah, 2016. While you were full of work, travel, & fun, you also kind of SUCKED… leading to an abundance of cocktails with friends to cope. But alas, just as all good things must come to an end, so must the crappy things. Let’s celebrate, shall we?

Whether you’re looking to party, go to a swanky dinner, or just hang out at home & enjoy some champagne, I’ve got you covered with a few of my favorite places in the PHX!

Party, Party, Party!

delete_rokaFairmont Scottsdale: Casino Royale New Year’s Eve Party
I know, I know. You’re SO surprised, but yeah, I will be celebrating NYE at the Fairmont this year, and it should be an incredible time! Starting at 9pm on December 31, join me in ringing in the New Year at The Plaza Bar with a night at Casino Royale, with entertainment by DJ Tommy Roberts, dancing and specialty cocktails. They are encouraging themed attire, though I’m opting for cocktail attire to go with my bourbon cocktails & champagne! They will have VIP table and bottle service, which you can reserve by calling 480.585.2694. Entry is $25 per person, but it’s complimentary if dining at any resort restaurant the same evening, so be sure to check out Bourbon Steak (classic steakhouse with a local flare), La Hacienda (a modern take on Mexican cuisine complemented by their incredible tequila bar), or the hidden gem located on the TPC golf course, Toro Latin Restaurant & Rum Bar, which features unique dishes with distinct flavors of South and Central America in a casual, atmosphere… did I mention they have one of the largest selections of rum in the Valley? Be sure to get a cocktail or two to pair with your food! For more info, visit:   http://www.scottsdaleprincess.com/Seasonal-Events

Counter Intuitive: Okay, a shameless plug for a client–but it’s a good one, so bear with me! Known for their innovative cocktails, limited hours, & changing themes, Counter Intuitive has been making its mark on the cocktail scene, both here in town, as well as all over the country! They’re offering two seating times–7:30pm to 10pm ($80 per person), and 10:30pm to 1am ($150 per person)–which includes 7 (yes. SEVEN) signature cocktails of your choice, and the entire cocktail menu is available to choose from! They’ll also be offering bottles of Veuve Cliquot ($100 each) and the 10:30pm seating includes a champagne toast at midnight! Snag your ticket(s) here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nye-a-very-counter-intuitive-new-years-eve-tickets-30525441417?utm_term=eventurl_text {133 E Stetson Dr #4, Scottsdale, AZ 85251}

Jade Bar at the Sanctuary Resort: Sanctuary has some of the best views in the Valley, coupled with an incredible spa, wonderful dining at elements, & great craft cocktails at the renowned Jade Bar. Ring in 2017 with a sophisticated sit-down affair at elements or join in Scottsdale’s biggest New Year’s Eve bash at jade bar. There will be two seatings at elements–5:30–7pm, priced at $150 per person; and from 8-10:30pm, is priced at $185, & includes a complimentary Champagne toast, party favors and admission to the Jade Bar celebration–but both featuring an inspired four-course menu by Chef MacMillan. Looking for the party? At Jade Bar, the party runs from 8pm-1am, with a DJ spinning hits–you’re going to want to hit the dance floor! The Dining and Entertainment Package includes a four-course prix fixe holiday menu, bottle of Champagne, and party favors, priced at $1,000 for a table of four and $1,500 for a table of six. Please note: Tax and gratuity are additional, and space is limited. Hurry & make your reservations by calling 480-607-2300. More information is available at www.sanctuaryaz.com. {5700 E McDonald Dr, Paradise Valley, AZ 85253}

Swanky Dinners

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First course at Roka Akor: The Wagyu Beef Tataki, Truffle Onion Vinaigrette & Rock Chive.

Roka Akor: Roka knows how to pull out all the stops to make a night out extra special, and NYE is no exception! It’s one of my favorite restaurants in Scottsdale, as everything is high quality, from the sushi, to the steaks, to the cocktails, with extraordinary attention to detail. They’re offering a 5-course tasting menu (minimum of 2 people), featuring some of their amazing sushi, seafood, & steaks, along with other premium items prepared on their signature robata menu. Seatings are at 7pm & 9pm, for $98 per person. For more information & to make a reservation, visit their site: http://www.rokaakor.com/scottsdale/new-years-eve-dinner/ {7299 N Scottsdale Rd, Scottsdale, AZ 85258; (480) 306-8800}

 

Second Story Liquor Bar: SSLB is dark, swanky, sexy, and has an extensive collection of whiskey & bourbon, making it one of my favorite places to pony up to the bar–especially since my friend Clint (aka “Spotty”) recently took over the reins & revamped their cocktail menu! They’re having a Purple Rain themed dinner & dance party, starting at 7:30pm on December 31st. Enjoy food from Chef Jason McGrath (who has been getting some rave reviews!) with champagne & cocktails from the bar–seating is limited, so don’t miss out! For more information & to purchase tickets, visit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/purple-rain-new-years-eve-scottsdale-tickets-30318136362?aff=fbpurplerain {4166 North Scottsdale Road, #102; Scottsdale, AZ 85251}

For the Homebodies: The Classic Champagne Cocktail

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For those of you choosing to celebrate at home, I salute you!! There’s wisdom in avoiding the crowds, spending all the money, and oh! The Uber surge pricing!! I do hope that champagne is part of your evening, and thanks to the Mixology 101 class on Champagne Cocktails at the Sanctuary Resort‘s Jade Bar, I have a little cocktail recipe for you… the classic Champagne Cocktail! (And be sure to check out the Mixology 101 classes–they’re held every Saturday–starting up again on January 7–at noon, for $40 per person. Great way to spend an afternoon with a date or with a bunch of friends!) Okay, okay, back to it. Jazz up your Champagne, Prosecco, or Cava with this super simple recipe!

Champagne Cocktail

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters (available at
  • Chilled Brut Champagne
  • Twist of Lemon(s)
  • Champagne flute

Instructions:

Place a sugar cube in a chilled champagne flute. Add 3 dashes of Angostura bitters, fill the glass with Brut champagne (sparkling wine, Prosecco work, too!), and squeeze a lemon twist on top. Serve. Enjoy many.

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Champagne by quinnanya / CC BY

So, Happy New Year, you crazy kids!! Have fun celebrating, kiss a stranger or two, but please, please, PLEASE get around safely–I’m a big fan of Uber, Lyft, taxi services, or just plain old staying home. But BE SAFE. (Yeah, yeah. Drink responsibly!)

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I’m Thankful for… This Cocktail.

Shockingly enough, when I’m invited to a dinner or potluck situation, my friends typically ask me to bring booze or choose a cocktail to make for the occasion. Thanksgiving is no exception. I’m going chow down with some friends, and what better way to give thanks than throwing back a couple delicious cocktails & getting sauced while shoving copious amounts of food down your gullet? There is no better way, I say!

I decided I wanted to do some sort of fall/Thanksgiving-themed cocktail, but don’t you worry–there’s no “turkey fat washed” anything, or weird garnishes involving meat or stuffing. This is quick, easy, and to the point. After all, if you’re spending all your time prepping the food, you want to maintain a mild, steady buzz in the simplest way possible, right? Short of drinking straight from a bottle of whiskey, this little bubbly concoction should have you covered!

 

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The Recipe

What you need:

  • A bottle of Prosecco–it doesn’t have to be fancy. Or hell, pick up more, especially if your family is high-maintenance. Get home & throw it in the fridge. No one likes warm bubbly.
  • Cranberry Juice (Ocean Spray should do the trick. You really don’t want to be traipsing into Whole Foods RIGHT before Thanksgiving to get organic, super tart cranberry juice harvested by consenting bog farmers, do you?)
  • A couple limes to squeeze. Or, make it simpler & get the lime juice in a bottle, though I always prefer fresh-squeezed. (Go ahead. Call me a hipster. I dare you.)
  • Simple Syrup (You can make it yourself using this recipe from Food & Wine–it’s easy! Or you can buy it, you lazy bum.)

See? Easy, right? Now, to mix it up and get you *ahem* relaxed before everyone comes over…

How to Make It

Dump 1 oz cranberry juice, 1 tbsp lime juice, and 1 tsp simple syrup into a shaker full of ice. Shake it up until your fingers start feeling cold. Pour the chilled mixture into a champagne flute. (Or a lager glass. Whatever floats your boat.) Fill the rest of the glass with the chilled Prosecco, give it a quick stir, and you’re done! Garnish with a couple cranberries or a wedge of lime, if you so desire.

Now, the most important part. DRINK IT.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday, folks. Find something to be thankful for, and toast with those you love.

And please, please, PLEASE–don’t drink and drive. If you’re going to drink, don’t drive. You may end up hurting someone’s loved one(s), and yourself. Drink responsibly–I’ll thank you for it.

Never Say Never: Tequila

Tequila shots for all of us...

Shots, shots, shots… NO. Photo by: taylorandayumi

For years, I have proclaimed that tequila & I are enemies… But my friends seem to believe in the old adage, “Keep your friends close, & your enemies closer.” What do I mean? They keep making me try different kinds of tequila, tequila cocktails, and talking about tequila, and dammit! I’m starting to like it, and dare I say, I think tequila likes me back. Never say never. Seriously–you’ll be forced to eat your words, and that’s just no fun at all.

But mezcal, on the other hand… It’s smoky, and can be a little overwhelming for me, so I tend to avoid it when possible. When it’s done right, however… I can’t get enough.

My friend Luke DeTraz is hosting a cocktail education series at The Gladly in Phoenix, and he invited me to join the tequila class. (See? Tequila pushers, all of them!) After an hour of education about how tequila is made and a tasting of a variety of tequila & mezcal, Luke made a couple cocktails for everyone to sample. My tastebuds took notice of the Antigua Usanza, Luke’s take on an Old Fashioned. Made with the El Silencio Joven blend & Amargo Vallet liqueur (which is AMAZING, by the way. Move over, Fernet), the smoky goodness of mezcal is blended beautifully with the Amargo & a coffee chile syrup that you’ll want to devour by itself. For National Tequila Day, I thought it’d be nice to share a tequila (okay, mezcal) drink that I enjoy. Luke was kind enough to share his recipe, which is below, but be warned–this cocktail is not for the faint of heart, Coors Light or Patron drinkers. (I couldn’t resist.)

The Antigua Usanza, a take on an Old Fashioned, made with mezcal.

The Antigua Usanza, a take on an Old Fashioned, made with mezcal.

Antigua Usanza

  • 1 oz el Silencio Joven
  • 1 oz of a good, bourbon-y Añejo (Luke used ArteNOM Seleccion de 1146 Añejo, which is excellent)
  • 0.5 oz coffee chile syrup
  • 0.5 oz Amargo Vallet
  • 1 orange peel
In a cocktail shaker or pint glass, combine all ingredients. Add ice and stir until chilled, about 30 seconds. Strain into rocks glass. Squeeze orange peel over drink, making sure oils fall into glass, place in the drink, & serve.
Recipe for Coffee-Chile Syrup:
  • 1 cup coffee or espresso
  • 1 cup dark muscavado
  • 2 chili de arbol

Add all ingredients to a small saucepan. Let boil for 3-5 minutes, stirring frequently. Mash chilies during the process for more heat.

Cheers! I hope you don’t wake up with any regrets tomorrow morning.

Tequila will get you every time!

Boozy Favorites: Bar Crudo

Crudo Sign

I confess: I am having an unhealthy love affair with Crudo. The bar, specifically. (C’mon, like you didn’t know that was coming.)

Tucked away in the back of a strip mall in Phoenix, Crudo is a cult favorite of foodies in Phoenix. Their space is open and airy, and makes me feel like I’m somewhere else, like San Francisco. The food is fresh, inventive, and delicious, with the squid ink risotto as a tasty headliner. Chef Cullen also makes all his own cheese in-house–I love the fresh mozzarella with the bacon relish (yes, it’s a real thing!) and caramelized onions. Anyways, enough about the food. For now.

Bar Crudo is run by mixologist Micah Olson, who hails from Phoenix institutions like Merc Bar and Jade Bar at the Sanctuary. His warm smile and affable manner put you right at ease when you walk through the door. There’s a giant chalkboard wall outlining the signature cocktails and small bites available at the bar–note that the full menu is available in the bar, as well. There’s plenty of seating around the cozy bar, but I prefer to pony up and have Micah mix up one of his magical cocktails with the spirit of my choice–always a good option, in my opinion. One of the things I really love is the beautiful glassware that the cocktails are served in. Micah rolled out a few new cocktails last month, and I decided to try them with my trusty cocktailing friend, Chase.

The Daring Dutchman

The Daring Dutchman

We started off with the Daring Dutchman. I wasn’t sure what to expect, given that the cocktail has mascarpone cheese in it. Yes, that’s right. CHEESE. But holy crap–this one knocked my socks off. The Daring Dutchman is made with Bols Genever, Dried Apricot Shrub, Honey, Mascarpone, Soda Water, & a float of Galliano, and served on ice with a silver straw. The silver straw has a spoon at the bottom, so you can stir your drink and sip, without messing with your vibe–like a spork, but classier. The drink is smooth, sweet, and decadent–like a dessert version of a Bloody Mary. Throw your hesitation to the wind and drink this. Trust me.

Core Survivor #2

Core Survivor #2

The next cocktail we tried was the Core Survivor #2 (not sure what happened to #1, but I’m not asking questions.) Micah mixed up Gin, Cronin’s Swedish Punch, his house-made Grapefruit-Cinnamon Syrup, Bitterman’s Emmanuel Tiki Bitters, dash of lemon, served up with an orange peel garnish.

Corleone

The Coreleone.
Don’t mess with it.

The last drink on our list was The Corleone. I’m a bourbon girl, but if I were to only drink gin, I would drink this. Made with Plymouth Gin, Alexander Grappa, Muddled Grapes, Lemon, White Wine Syrup, & 50/50 Orange Bitters, and served up. It’s mild, smooth, and just slightly sweet, thanks to the muddled grapes. The Corleone is dangerous–it goes down easy, and next thing you know, you’re teetering off your bar stool. This drink also pairs really well with the infamous Fried Pickles, served with aioli.

Fried Pickles!

Fried Pickles!

Not sure you want to try the Fried Pickles? Suck it up, kids. Drop my name (BoozyBrownGirl) to the staff, and get an order of the salty, crispy treats for only $5! I guarantee that you won’t regret it. As I mentioned, Crudo’s Chef Cullen also serves up amazing food–the Meatloaf Burger is a favorite. It’s moist, tasty, and great to help soak up the booze.

Get yourself over to Bar Crudo sooner than later, my friends. Amazing cocktails, great atmosphere, and the funny, courteous staff sell themselves. Oh, and you can’t forget the daily happy hour–Tuesday through Saturday, from 5 to 7pm!

Crudo & Bar Crudo 3603 E. Indian School Road, Phoenix, Arizona 85018